A public relations plan is one of the most important keys to your success.
The first thing to understand is what is public relations, also know as PR, and how is it different from marketing?
Marketing is the is the art and science of determining who would like to use your product or service.
Public relations is one part of marketing. A public relations plan is what you create after you have developed a wonderful product or service that you know fills a genuine need or desire for your potential customers.
Public relations, or outreach, is how you build awareness about what you are offering. Your public relations plan is what keeps you organized.
This post will give you the steps to follow to create a public relations plan and build awareness for you product or service.
This article assumes you have already:
- Created a product or service
- Determined whether there is a need or desire for that product or service and
- Figured out where the people who need or desire your product or service are, online and off
Creating a public relations plan consists of:
- What you do before you create the plan
- Creating and implementing the plan and
- Maintaining and updating the plan
Alright, altogether now!
Before You Create Your Public Relations Plan
As I said, above, your public relations plan is the last phase of your marketing plan. It is a plan within a plan.
Establish a preliminary budget, including:
- Money and
If you are reading this article you are most likely running a small business. That means you will be doing the public relations yourself, at least for now. Your budget may include some cash outlay, but for the most part it will be a budget based on how much time you can spend on building awareness and who will do what.
You will refine this over time, but it is an excellent idea to give yourself a preliminary estimate of the required resources.
Understand your audience. Although this is work that should be done in the business planning part of you process, it is so important I am repeating it here. To fully understand you audience and how it develops over time, do the following:
Everything the public sees is, by default, part of your marketing. So everything you publish should be published with your persona in mind.
Develop your positioning statement.
Your positioning statement is a brief description of how you would like to be perceived by the public, especially your specific prospects (target market). A positioning statement answers these questions:
- Who you are
- What business you’re in
- For whom (what people do you serve)
- What’s needed by the market you serve
- Against whom do you compete
- What’s different about your business
- What unique benefit is derived from your product or services?
Thank you to Marketing Profs for the above list.
Your position, on the other hand, is how you actually are perceived by the public.
How do you know how the public is perceiving you?
One way to tell is to listen in on your social media channels (paying attention if a customer complains about you on, say, Facebook) and by setting up, at the minimum, Google alerts that will let you know whether, and how, you are being mentioned online (you will need a Google account for this).
There are also paid reputation management services that monitor and clean your reputation, but that moves into ethically dubious territory and doesn’t come cheap, anyway.
Develop your key message(s).
You will typically develop fewer than three key messages in order to avoid diluting your message and overwhelming prospects.
Here are some sample key messages:
- Understanding technology is possible with clear goals and a supportive coach (technology coaching business).
- Giving birth is a life affirming experience when supported by an experienced doula (birth doula service).
- Sustainable yoga clothes are an important part of creating a harmonious practice (e-commerce site).
Of course, you will develop key messages that are relevant to your business.
Inventory your public relations assets. They include:
- Internal spokespeople
- Satisfied customers for testimonials or press interviews — create a database
- White papers or other documents
- Sales collateral
- Existing press releases
- Previous media exposure (clippings, etc.) and
- Press kit
If you are just starting out, chances are you don’t have much in the way of public relations assets. This is part of the infrastructure you will be creating.
Create a plan for interacting with the media.
You need to consider how you will interact with the media. If you have a press kit, you can share that. You should also have a quick little “elevator speech” prepared so that you can quickly communicate what you are doing.
For ANNACOLIBRI, the elevator speech goes like this:
“ANNACOLIBRI provides coaching and practical help for women who want to understand and use technology to develop their businesses and personal projects.”
The elevator speech should be short, simple and very easy to understand.
Creating a Public Relations Plan
Use a template.
Here are two free downloads you can use to guide you:
- http://bizammo.com/one-page-marketing-plan-guide/ (follow the link to the PDF at the bottom of the article)
Using a template will help you stay organized.
Establish public relations objectives.
Your public relations objectives should be:
- Relevant to your business
- Realistic in terms of time, money and staff (see your budget, above) and
Sample objectives and measures:
Create a public relations plan audit spreadsheet and check in with yourself regularly.
You can include the following:
- Media awareness: how much does the media know about you?
- Positioning: what is public perception regarding your business?
- Internal support (if you are a solopreneur, let’s hope you support your own efforts!)
- Expertise: who can do this work (if you can’t who can you hire)?
- Process: what is your basic process, in a nutshell? and
- Relationships: these are critical for establishing and expanding your business
In order to track your efforts, create a spreadsheet with the above information. Be sure to date it. Establish a regular time, for example, quarterly, to check in with yourself.
Create a media channel database.
Your database will include:
- Individuals and
- Press release distribution sites
Ask yourself with which organizations, individuals and channels you would like to share your message.
Use a public relations plan calendar (in conjunction with your editorial calendar) to schedule and prepare your communications (another opportunity to create a spreadsheet!):
- Activities: what will you do?
- Timing: when will you do it?
- Type of communication: how will you do it? and
- Channel: with whom will you do it (see media channel database, above)?
Create a press release template.
A basic press release includes the following information:
- Contact information
- Lead sentence
- Body text and
- Paragraph about your company
Here is a press release template you can use for inspiration.
Newsworthy events include:
- New products or services
- Key sales or successes and
Implement your activities. This is the fun part!
You will need to monitor your public relations efforts. At the minimum, it is useful to keep track of:
- Media placements
- Communications: press release, blog, social media
- Web analytics: traffic from links in PR content
- Social media monitoring: likes, retweets, wall posts and
- Relationships: who contacts you and who you contact (and how often)
You will want to look at the data regularly, based on the public relations plan audit (see Step Nine) you created.
It is important to stay fresh. You do this by iterating, which means that check in with yourself and then make changes based on either hard data and your instincts (ideally, both!).
Wow! That was a lot to take in. Feel free to contact me to ask questions or leave your questions in the comments, below.
It may seem overwhelming, but just take it step by step. And, remember, success is doing your best while enjoying yourself. Have fun with your public relations plan.
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